Silverbulletday gets Baffert off to quick start with Oaks win

Filly's 2-length victory could earn her a shot at males in Preakness

May 01, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Silverbulletday may have run her way into the Preakness with a two-length victory yesterday in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.

Before a record crowd of 101,034 on a gorgeous, sunny afternoon, the 3-year-old filly showed again why she is one of the most exciting horses in America. As the 1-9 favorite, she swooped into the lead on the far turn and glided down the stretch for her 10th victory in 11 races.

All her races have been against fillies. In the winner's circle, owner Mike Pegram was asked whether she might tackle the males in the Preakness. "If she's as good as we think she is," he replied, "she'll get her chance against the boys."

Her trainer, Bob Baffert, said he wouldn't commit to the Preakness, the Black-Eyed Susan or any other race until he sees how his other horses fare today in the Derby. One is the filly Excellent Meeting. He decided yesterday to run her against the males for the first time instead of in the Oaks.

Silverbulletday's $341,620 share of the $551,000 purse swelled her earnings to $2,091,750. This is the earliest in a career a horse has ever surpassed the $2 million mark.

She completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1 minute, 49.92 seconds.

"She's as good a filly as I've ever ridden," Gary Stevens said.

Aljabr is withdrawn

Aljabr, the weaker half of Godolphin Racing's Derby entry, was scratched yesterday because of "some apparent lameness," according to the Kentucky Racing Commission. He would have broken from post No. 5. That means every horse outside him will move in one slot in the starting gate.

After a full day of advance betting on the Derby, here are the odds based on the small win pool of $229,046 at Churchill Downs: Stephen Got Even 4-1, Vicar 5-1, Menifee 5-1, Excellent Meeting-General Challenge 6-1, the field 7-1, Cat Thief 7-1, Prime Timber 12-1, Worldly Manner 15-1, Desert Hero 19-1, Three Ring 20-1, Adonis 20-1, Answer Lively 25-1, Charismatic 30-1 and First American 40-1.

Looking for intervention

If you believe religion and gambling mix, consider this daily double: Pat Day and Elliott Walden, jockey and trainer of Menifee. Both deeply religious, they say the outcome of the Derby rests in God's hands.

Menifee may need divine intervention after breaking from post 18. The Walden-trained Victory Gallop, second in last year's Derby, might have won that race if he hadn't been forced to race wide after breaking from post 13.

Arthur B. Hancock III, part owner of Menifee, said he isn't worried about Menifee's post. His Gato Del Sol won the 1982 Derby from post 18.

The elder son of the legendary A.B. (Bull) Hancock Jr., Hancock sees that as a good omen. He sees omens everywhere. Before the Blue Grass Stakes, he passed a funeral procession. He turned to his wife, Staci, and said: "Funeral homes bury people. Maybe that means Menifee's going to bury them in the Blue Grass." He did.

First turn critical?

Carl Nafzger, trainer of Vicar, said the Derby may be won on the first turn.

"I'm concerned about not having enough pace in this race," Nafzger said. "I think we could have a real jam into the first turn.

"You've got a lot of horses with a lot of adaptability. They don't want to be on the lead. They all want to be a couple of lengths back. The Derby is every jock's race. They've got a quarter mile [to the first turn], about 22 seconds, to make major, major commitments."

Pub Date: 5/01/99

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